The following post was written by *Mark, a volunteer with our Bridges Program here at Advice & Aid Pregnancy Centers. He is sharing his experience and knowledge so that others can realize there is hope in the midst of a difficult situation, and that other men can know they are not alone.
The stories that are shared here come from the real-life experiences that our clients, staff and volunteers had as they dealt with unplanned pregnancy. *All names have been changed.
It’s been a long time since I starting talking with the young, dedicated dads who joined the Bridges* program. I’ve been blessed to get to know dozens of men who weren’t sure on day one that they even wanted to stick around and yet now, they are becoming great dads. There is so much powerful learning in the Bridges classes. Plus, the brotherhood experienced in going through a challenge together is amazing. All the guys learn from each other, not just the mentors.
Many of the guys in the program didn’t have the benefit of great parenting role models when they were growing up. Often, they didn’t know how to parent effectively, or how to support their girlfriend in a positive way to take care of their baby. It can be overwhelming.
A young man who had served in the Army in Afghanistan spoke to me one night about how unsure he was about raising his child. He was still getting used to life back in the states when his son was born. As he held his 8-week-old baby during our talk he asked a very challenging question.
“Is it ok that I haven’t bonded with my son?”
I didn’t expect a question like that. But we talked about what it means to bond and that for some it takes a little while longer than others. I was able to encourage him to see the positives his new family had going for them. I think he felt better after our talk and he became a regular at Bridges. He wanted to be a good father.
With the right attitude and time spent talking about their parenting approach with their girlfriend, the guys we work with often get it figured out. They determine what works for them and their new family. It is so amazing to see the growth from week to week. I think the most impressive thing I’ve witnessed is simply the willingness to try new things and learn about how to raise a child. It’s easier to pretend like they don’t need help, but these men make the effort and show courage in getting help to be a better dad. Despite what the world says, it takes a real man to ask for help!
I think some of the most rewarding times I have seen is when a young man or woman in Bridges learns to trust again and ask for help. It is often the broken dynamics of their childhood that contribute to the decisions that lead to unexpected pregnancy. Many times, they have lost the ability to trust. It is an important step to help them learn that they can trust again. When they learn to trust, getting the right help for their family becomes much easier.
The most rewarding part of helping the young families in our program is that they are all trying hard and they are so grateful for our time together. The guys are appreciative of the time we spend with them on Tuesday or Thursday nights. They can hardly believe that someone is willing to give their time to talk with them about the challenges in raising a family. For many of the guys I spoke with, they hadn’t seen much giving from the men in their lives growing up, so they didn’t know what to think at first when somebody offered to help them. Now they know that Bridges volunteers are there to love and serve them.
If you are a man who could use the encouragement and training from a group of men who are there to help you succeed at the tough job of parenting, don’t hesitate to ask for help! Begin by making an easy call (913.962.0200) to ask about our Bridges program
Bridges is Advice & Aid’s parenting support group. The goal of the program is to equip and support new parents who face either an unplanned pregnancy or a planned pregnancy but need additional assistance by providing a safe, loving, compassionate environment where they can grow and flourish. We do this by offering a two year program that includes large group education, small group connecting, and creating community through meals and special events.
Additional stories by Advice & Aid volunteers & staff:
Emily’s Story – Why I help Others
Abby’s Story – Unexpected Pregnancy & the Information You Need Most